Ride Rules & Etiquette


Download: Group Riding Skills

Please read and follow the guidance on club rides during the pandemic.

Cycling on the public roads has some inherent danger attached, but as a Club we want to support and encourage people to ride safely and enjoyably, respecting their fellow riders and other road users.

By following a few basic "rules of etiquette", we can achieve this, so please read the text below.

If you are unsure about anything then please email secretary@ilkleycyclingclub.org.uk in advance of the rides, or ask your ride leader before the ride sets off.

These rules are based on best practice issued to us by British Cycling, and on the collective decades of cycling experience that the ride leaders have.


Always ride with a group that goes at a rate you can sustain over the entire route. The Club has a number of ride types, so please choose the one that best suits your ability and fitness.

The app on the Club website allows riders to confirm their intention to join a particular ride. Please do make use of this as it is helpful to the ride leaders.

Club rides are labelled as A, B or C group (with A the fastest). The website will give an indication of how fast this will be, or how long it will take to ride a certain route, as the hilly routes we tend to ride on around Ilkley don’t always translate to a straight miles-per-hour figure.

As a general rule it will be worth starting with a slower group than a faster one. But if you are not used to riding in a group then you might be surprised how much benefit you get from it (approx 20%). By this we mean you will go 20% faster with the same effort.

This is the single most important consideration for our club rides, and we ask you to take this very seriously:

Helmets are required on all ICC rides. Please make sure yours is in good condition. If you have had a fall or it has been somehow hit or damaged, replace it immediately.

It is essential that your bike is in a safe and roadworthy condition with, for example, working brakes and charged batteries for lights, e-shifting or e-bikes. If you are unsure, many local bike shops will offer a bike-check. Lighting and high-visibility clothing should also be used as appropriate.

Should there be an incident, please support the ride leader and offer any help you can, whether it be making a phone call to seek help, warning other road users (often the most critical thing to do), or assisting with any injured riders.

Ride leaders (or more likely their sweepers) will always try to help with mechanical issues, but are not trained mechanics. All riders should be able to fix basic problems such as punctures and be familiar with the workings of their own bike. Always carry some spare inner tubes that are the correct size for your tyres.

On every ride, it is the responsibility of each rider to have their own plan to get home in the event of a major mechanical failure or similar. We recommend that riders carry a spare layer of clothing to stay warm in case of an incident, or needing to pause to fix a mechanical.

Safety tips:

• Stay alert at all times.
• Hold your line. Don't overlap wheels
• Don't look back -relax!

To be safe it is important to ride smoothly, don't over react, avoid hard braking, be alert as to what is going on up the road in the front of the pack, and anticipate what traffic will do. Inexperienced or inattentive riders who brake suddenly or touch a wheel may crash or cause a crash.

Focus on the rider(s) ahead. Beware of pot holes in the road. Don't brake unless absolutely necessary. Don't accelerate suddenly, although there may be circumstances when riding on the front of a group where you need to accelerate "through" a situation, to avoid the group behind crashing.


Ilkley Cycling Club encourages the progress of youth riders as they develop. All riders under the age of 18 need to complete a consent form for the Club's Youth Officer unless they are riding with a parent or a guardian. Only riders aged 14 years and over can join club rides unattended and must conform with the guidance and advice found on the Youth Road Riding Policy which can be found on the Youth page of the ICC website. Youth riders and their parents (whether riding or not) are expected to be familiar with the information in this document.


We ask everyone, when riding on an Ilkley ride to have respect for their fellow riders and other road-users:

Please follow the highway-code at all times, including stopping at red lights and riding no more than two-abreast. Please respect ALL other road users including drivers, pedestrians, runners, dog-walkers and horse-riders. Where appropriate and safe to do so, allow drivers to get past you on narrow roads.

Once you’ve joined a ride, please stay in the group. If you’re having one of those days when you’re struggling to keep up, let the ride leader know. If you see someone struggling, drop back and see if you can help. If you’re on the front, hold a pace at which the group can stay together. If you hear a shout of “mile off”, drop your speed slightly. On the return leg, don’t start racing against each other to get back first. If you need to leave a ride before it's over, tell the ride leader before you do so. The new app also allows riders that have left a ride to confirm that fact, and their safety, electronically to the ride leader.


Let's not forget that we do this because we love cycling, so let’s do it with a smile on our faces. A cheery "hello" to a passing groups helps spread the fun to everyone else.


Please get to the rides on time. We will have a short announcement before each ride and then look to get going.

Each Ilkley Club ride will have a leader and should have a "sweeper".

The leader will not necessarily have to ride at the front, but will be familiar with the route and have some cycling experience. Please respect the leader’s decision, if for example they decide to shorten a route due to weather/light/safety concerns.

The "Sweeper" if present will ride at the back of the group and make sure riders do not become detached from the main group.

Ride two-abreast when it is safe to do so – this way the group is a compact unit which can ride efficiently but easily move to single-file when needed to (for example to get past an oncoming car when the road is narrow). On the roads, NEVER go three or more abreast, irrespective of how good the conversation is!

Communication is key to a safe group ride. Roads are full of traffic, obstacles, signs, pot holes, parked cars, animals, pedestrians, etc. and visibility is limited for the cyclist in a pack. It is important to communicate to the riders in the group of potential hazards by shouting and pointing out hazards.


It is not imperative that all the cyclists in the group point out the same hazards or signals. As long as a few are then this is normally sufficient (and the leading two always should). If you are a beginner or unsteady then is far safer for the group to keep both hands on the handle-bars then it is to point things out.

The purpose of these signals is that the riders can continue to ride at a steady pace and can ride round the smaller obstacles without constantly having to brake (and sudden braking causes most incidents).

The thing you are most likely to see is where riders point down in the direction of an oncoming gravel/hole. If the two riders both point to the ground between them, this signifies there is small obstacle (such as a pothole) that they are going to ride one either side of.

If the rider on the left points to their left, it means there is something to their left that they might have to ride slightly to the right of to pass – and if you are behind them then you will have to take the same line if you also want to avoid it! Similarly the rider on the right might indicate a similar obstacle to their right.

You will also see a rider pointing or waving behind their lower back. If they are pointing right (the most common) then it indicates that the whole group will have to move to the right to overtake an obstacle such as a parked car or pedestrian.


Warnings you're likely to hear when riding with ICC include:

Car Back: there's a car approaching from the rear of the group ride

Car Up: there's a car approaching from the front of the group ride (Some other clubs use this call to alert the group to a car approaching from the rear, but we don't!)

Car right or left: car is approaching on the left of right of the group ride

Out: the group needs to move out to avoid an obstacle

Gravel or Hole: there is a hazard in the road

Walker/runner up: there's a pedestrian on the road ahead

Bike up: there is a slower cyclist ahead that we are likely to overtake; or one approaching us in the opposite direction

Clear: this is called at a junction when there is nothing coming and you know you can pedal through. If, however, it is unsafe to proceed into the junction, then announce the danger (e.g. "Car Right") or the action ("Stopping") loudly and as soon as possible.

Slowing: potential hazard ahead, control speed (but don’t brake sharply to a standstill)

Stopping: we are going to have to stop – there is a hazard we can’t ride round Line-out or single-file: asking that we move (whilst still keeping same speed) to single-file to for example let a vehicle past.

All of this may sound complicated at first but you will soon get into it. It actually gives a whole new dimension to cycling as it makes it a team event – you have to communicate, support and trust each other, and everyone's safety is in each other's hands. But you will find it one of the most enjoyable elements to riding in a club. If in doubt, ask a fellow rider.